Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Why shouldn't I have a maid???

Bickersonnss For years, I've been teasing my husband with a line from an old "Bickersons" comedy routine. (No, I'm not old enough to remember them first-run; I got an old cassette out of the library and learned the routines playing them over and over again.) In it, Blanche wails, "Why can't I have a maid?"

When I lived in a small bedroom in my parents first house, it was easy to keep tidy. Same in my first two (small) houses. But then I got married and moved into a sprawling contemporary ranch house. (The original owners had expanded with four additions, and finished off three-quarters of the basement, too.) We, therefore, essentially have four living rooms (it only took 11 years to furnish this place), and we rotate their use on a regular basis.

I don't know how I kept the place clean when I worked a full-time job and had a booth in an antiques co-op (for 12 years), and wrote (but not published) books, as well, but somehow I managed. Now that I don't have to squeeze cleaning and laundry into my life, it's gotten out of hand.

It's been a stressful year, and cleaning the house was not on the top of my to-do list. So, after talking about it for months (okay, really, a couple of years), we bit the bullet and called a cleaning service, and then stressed about it or a whole week.

I'd always heard of women who clean before the cleaners come. "That won't be me," I said.

I lied.

Scrubbing the floor Two hours before they were to arrive, I found myself on my hands and knees cleaning the bathroom floor. Decluttering took the better part of an hour. Everything got stashed in my already messy office, which we hadn't contracted for them to clean. I had to leave to run an errand, so I wasn't there when the two ladies showed up, and wondered if I could find a way to STAY away while they were there.

No such luck. They were here for over three hours.

It turns out, I'm not the only writer around who has someone in to clean. One of my (very successful) author pals said hiring someone to come in and clean her house on a regular basis was the best thing she ever did for her writing career. It freed up hours and hours every week, giving her more time to devote to her career. (And she has a REAL career.) Still, I can't help feeling guilty.

Why do women feel they should do it all? My husband quit cutting the grass three or four years ago. Same with snowblowing the driveway. Gutters? There's a guy for that, too. Wanna dig up the garden in a big way? Just pick up the phone. We both work from home--and usually seven days a week--and he doesn't feel a lick of guilt over no longer doing his "home chores." So why should I feel like I'm not holding up my end?

Will somebody tell me it's okay to have the house cleaned on a regular basis -- and not by me? (And by the way, it really is nice to have a clean house!!!)